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Can you encourage a positive attitude to reading?

This research project started with a pilot with eight Year 9 boys (to coincide with a school wide focus on boy’s achievement) and each boy attended a 20 minute session with an adult male volunteer each week. The sessions were rotated so that no lesson was impacted more than any other. There were eight of these sessions.

At the end of this I evaluated the programme and came to the conclusion that although the programme was having a positive impact on the boys’ attitude, it was not viable to widen to all reluctant (or dormant) readers, due to the time out of lessons, the number of volunteers needed, and the time required to plan. I started engaging with the research in order to find an alternative to intervention. Was there something we could do on a regular basis to maximise the reading potential of our students?

I built the research into a framework called ‘Making CamVC a reading Community’ which I shared with the Principal, the SLG for Curriculum and the English department so that they knew how to maximise their reading lessons.

At the start of September 2017 all Year 7 students took an Attitude to Reading survey that allowed me to have targeted discussions, and made their teachers aware of students who may need extra encouragement.

For the pilot the data we collected included:

Surveys at the beginning and the end

Teacher feedback

Volunteer feedback

Student reading habits

For the main research:

Attitude to Reading survey

Teacher feedback

Student reading habits

The research has really enforced the idea that it is vital to know who your reluctant readers are as you can change minds with the right material and accessibility.

It has highlighted some of the challenges of promoting reading, and made the teachers more inclusive in terms of how they engage with reading. The realisation that talking about reading is as vital as reading itself has changed some practice significantly.

Student learning and progress

The pilot showed that with a bit of extra engagement, and with someone who knows the students there is potential for all students to read. The boys’ opinions changed, and they were more likely to challenge themselves in their reading. It also made them more inclusive in thinking about reading (some boys didn’t count reading news or magazine articles).

Unfortunately I am having to leave this project uncompleted as I am changing jobs, however I am hoping that the data at the end of the year shows an increased engagement with reading by the majority of our reluctant readers.


All Party Parliamentary Literacy Group Commission. (2012). Boys' Reading Commission. London: National Literacy Trust.

Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement (2016) Reading for Pleasure in secondary schools: a literature review. BookTrust.

Clark, C., & Rumbold, K. (2006). Reading for Pleasure: a research overview. London: National Literacy Trust.

Cremin, T., Mottram, M., Collins, F. M., Powell, S., & Safford, K. (2014). Building Communities of Engaged Readers: Reading for Pleasure. Oxon: Routledge.

Department for Communities and Local Government. (2006). Raising attainment in Education. London: Department for Communities and Local Government.

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Duncan, S. (2009). What are we doing when we read? - adult literacy learners' perceptions of reading. Research in Post-Compulsary Education, 317-331.

Education standards research team. (2012). Research evidence on reading for pleasure. London: Department for Education.

Hempel-Jorgensen, D. A. (2017). Understanding boys' (dis)engagement with reading for pleasure. Milton Keynes: Open University.

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Howard, V. (2011). The importance of pleasure reading in the lives of young teens: self identification, self construction and self awareness. Journal of Librarianship and Information Studies, 46-55.

Lancaster, A. (2012). Showing Impact: Mapping and Tracking Students' Reading in the secondary school library. Swindon: School Library Association.

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Nikolajeva, M. (2012). Guilt, empathy and the ethical potential of children's literature. Journal of Children's Literature Research , 1-13.

Ricketts, J. (2012). Reading: Assessment and Research. London: GL Assessments.

Ryan, P. (2013). Storytelling is a primary act of the mind. School Libraries in View, n/a.

Twist, L., & Clarkson, R. (2015). Techniques to get your boys reading. London: NFER.

Twist, L., Sizmur, J., Bartlett, S., & Lynn, L. (2011). PIRLS 2011. Slough: NFER.

Usherwood, B., & Toyne, J. (2002). The value and impact of reading imaginative literature. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 33-41.

Venning, L. (2017). Reading Outcomes Framework Toolkit. London : Reading Agency.

There is also some very interesting research that has been done by BookTrust that looks at the traits and habits of readers and non-readers at both primary and secondary. It’s called Segmentation Research, and it’s very worth reading.

Alison Tarrant


Cambourne Village College

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